Transformers Prime Soundwave Toy Review

in 2012, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Deluxe, Generation One, Prime

Transformers Prime

General Information:
Release Date: January 2012
Price Point: $12.99
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Laserbeak mini-figure

Images:

SoundwaveSoundwave is one of the most beloved characters in Transformers lore. After names like Optimus Prime and Megatron, even people who have not followed Transformers in years have a vague recollection of "that guy with tapes in his chest". When the Decepticon roster of "Transformers Prime" was being planned, Soundwave made for natural choice to join Megatron's forces as part of the first wave of Deluxe "Transformers Prime" figures released in 2012.

Laserbeak:
Soundwave is the only character in wave one whose accessory is also another character. In this case it's Laserbeak. This bird like creature has been a part of Transformers lore since the beginning, taking several different forms over the years. This time out his transformation (I'm using the term generously) is part of Soundwave's body that detaches when he needs the small Decepticon to do his bidding. Laserbeak can also attach to Soundwave in vehicle mode on the middle section towards the back. This is done via a 5mm peg on the botom of Laserbeak's body that can fit in any equivalent hole/slot on larger Transformers figures.

Laserbeak is designed with two large wings that angle back in a claw like fashion with two smaller wings underneath set at a downward angle. This vaguely bird-like design is enhanced by a tail sticking out the back and a head at the very front, which has a face that resembles Soundwave's own with a "screen" serving as his face. The wings have some nice designs on them including layered armor panels and curved lines. Truth be told, this design looks much more bat-like to me, making me think "Ratbat" might have been a more appropriate name - though I wouldn't count that out with a future redeco.

Laserbeak is cast in metallic blue plastic, the same shade as Soundwave himself. He has some black parts, particularly on his joints. A bit of black paint is used on his lower wings to provide extra detailing.

This is a cute accessory, and it is true to the show. The old fan in me just wishes ol' Laserbeak was something more than just an attachment to Soundwave in this universe.

Vehicle Mode:
Soundwave having a vehicle mode is nothing new. Going back to the days of "Machine Wars", Soundwave has had many incarnations where he no longer transformed into a boom box. In "Transformers Prime", he becomes an aerial vehicle largely based on the General Atomics MQ9 Reaper. At first I was a bit surprised by Soundwave's new form since most of his vehicle modes in the history of the line have been `ground based, however thinking about just what a Reaper Drone can do really does suit the character. After all, such Drones are capable of being both deadly war machines or vehicles used to gather intelligence. In both cases the description suits Soundwave's character very well.

Soundwave's basic shape comes right form the Reaper Drone. The front section is rounded off and bulb shaped. The center of the body is quite thin leading out to wings that come out the sides at 90 degree angles from the main body. This section then leads to the back/tail area which has to distinct vertical stabilizers sticking up at angles. The thruster at the back has the same cone shape as the Reaper Drone as well. Though there are more details than what I've just described, it can honestly be said that Soundwave's vehicle mode is instantly recognizable even to someone who even just casually follows the news.

While Soundwave shares many of the Reaper Drone's features, it takes them and embelishes quite a bit. The front end for instance has a claw like detail on the sides, if attached, Laserbeak's wings give some extra stabilizers and his rear section has several pointed designs including a diamond shaped design in the center flanked by what appear to be claw like designs.

True to his G1 roots, Soundwave's primary plastic color is metallic dark blue. Metallic black is used on smaller parts such as his vertical stabilizers and some smaller sections where the wings meet the main body of the vehicle. Painted details are done in violet and black. The violet color is used on small strips on the wings and some small details on the side of the vehicle's front end. The color is really fantastic. It contrasts strongly with the dark blue plastic, giving it a glowing quality that would be lost on brighter plastic. A bit of black paint is also used on the wings to give some details to the edges. This doesn't sound like a lot, but the fact is that Soundwave isn't all that colorful on "Transformers Prime" (either in personality or body) so this works just fine for me.

There is a small landing gear piece underneath the front of the vehicle, tucked between Soundwave's feet. Since the hole in the middle section normally accomodates Laserbeak, you could also use it to attach weapons from other toys in the line or even others such as Mech Tech weapons.

Overall, I really like Soundwave's vehicle mode. It's appropriate and it's a unique vehicle mode buried in a sea of cars, jets and trucks.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the wings back.
  2. On the underside of each wing, swing out the forearm pieces.
  3. Turn the arms/wings so the flat panels of the wings face out to the sides.
  4. Swing the panel with the thruster on it back and the robot head will spring up into place.
  5. Swing the thruster forward, then press the panel with the rear stabilizers up against the robot chest.
  6. Separate the two halves of the vehicle's front end.
  7. Swing the top halves of the vehicle mode's front end up so they are against the lower legs.
  8. Swing the curved heel pieces back.
  9. Swing the robot feet down.
  10. Angle the lower legs back to create a slight "chicken walker" effect.
  11. Laserbeak can be attached to the holes on his wrists or on his chest, tucking the wings into the angled grooves that go near his shoulders.

If you want to have some fun, leave the legs connected together and Soundwave winds up looking like Beast Machines Jetstorm!

Robot Mode:
I know I can't be alone in this, but as I transform Soundwave into vehicle mode I cannot help but think of Beast Machines Jetstorm, a character whose CGI model differed quite a bit from his toy. The CGI model had a head with panels that angled out to the sides, a triangular face with thin arms and a body that had no legs but rather floated around to move. This design (most likely by coincidence) has some of those same elements and the blue color really reinforces that idea. There's nothing wrong with this at all, I just thought I'd bring up the curious point is all.

Many of the "Transformers Prime" character designs try to work elements of the character's previous incarnations into their design. In the case of Soundwave, there are a couple elements fans will be familiar with from the G1 era:

  • Soundwave's head sculpt is based largely on the Decepticon symbol. This includes the central crest with two points on top and the antennae like protrusions that angle out to the sides and the triangular shape of his face. This is quite appropriate since G1 Soundwave's face also resembled the Decepticon symbol (and may have been the inspiration for it).
  • Laserbeak's ability to attach and "eject" from Soundwave's chest is a callback to his G1 self who was able to open his "cassette deck" chest and launch "tapes" that would transform into his own personal army including Laserbeak.

While nowhere near as obvious a homage as say, Optimus Prime or Wheeljack, I do give the designers credit for incorporating two such iconic elements of the character into an otherwise brand new design.

Soundwave's CGI model seems to have been designed to evoke a sense of mystery and fear. His non detailed face is blank most of the time, betraying no emotion or information unless he wants it to. His thin, lithe form looks powerful and he has bested warriors like Airachnid on the show (and she's no slouch). He also has lots of sharp looking angles and pointed sections that give him an evil appearance. All in all, Soundwave is not someone you want to meet in a dark alley! The action figure manages to recreate all these elements very well, from the chest "spikes" to his thin and pointed feet. He even has small, spindly fingers that look like they belong on a bat's wing more than a Decepticon warrior, but this too is consistent with his CGI model. I'm quite impressed with the level of detial and sculpting on what looked to be a very simple figure in vehicle mode.

This mode is still primarily dark blue, but a bit more black plastic appears on the arms, the hip joints, knee armor and feet. The metallic black and violet colors are used in this mode as well. The black is used to paint his blank face and bits of armor on his legs. The violet color provides small bits of detail on his legs and on the waist/hip area. Once again calling back to his G1 roots, blue paint is added into the mix in this form, providing paint detail on the inside panels of his arms as well as his chest. The last little touch is a bit of silver on the edges of his central crest. By virtue of his CGI model, the designers really didn't need to put a ton of detail on this figure since he is primarily blue and black in color even on the TV show. All the colors work together very well and I think he looks dark and mysterious, just as he should.

Soundwave has twenty six points of articulation in this mode. I was a bit surprised by this as it didn't seem he'd be so articulated from early photos I saw, but all the articulation works very well. I tend to prefer having his feet straightened out to use his knee articulation normally, but the knee joints work the other way as well. What I really had fun with were the arms. Since he has a rather unusual set of joints on his arms thanks to his transformation scheme, you can have his arms positioned in all sorts of ways such as giving a salute, crossing his arms and so on. As mentioned earlier, you can attach Laserbeak to the holes in his wrists, but you can also use these to attach weapons with 5mm pegs. Thanks to the way his arms are designed, they are able to hold up weapons despite how thin they are, most impressive!

Final Thoughts:
It may surprise you to know that I didn't expect to like Soundwave when I first saw him on the television show. I thought his form was just odd and didn't "fit" the Soundwave character, but the more I went over this figure the more I liked it. Soundwave is a cool figure that is show accurate to boot. I do have to say if you're looking for a more traditional "bulky" looking robot this is not the guy for you, but other than that I highly recommend it!